Sunday, 14 September 2008

What to pack for cycling

This weekend I started the second leg of my cycle trip around the country.

The loose route at the moment is from Jičín to Turnov, Malá Skala and Liberec; then via Ještěd through the Czech Switzerland national park, before turning south towards Ústí nad Labem, Terezín and Litoměřice. From there via Říp mountain to Mělník, Budeč and Lidice, just outside Prague.

I don’t fancy cycling in or writing about Prague though, so I’ll turn west towards Slany, Louny, Most and Chomutov, where I hope to catch the Olomouc hockey team in action at the end of September. The first week of October I’ll spend in West Bohemia before finishing this stage of the trip with a few days in Plzeň.

As always, if anyone has any tips or suggestions, I’m all ears. The tips I received last time from various sources were very helpful.

On the last trip I was surprised how many people asked about the equipment I was using. Unfortunately I don’t have interesting tales to tell about hi-tech cycling outfits or GPS devices or titanium bits and pieces. The second-hand bike I’m using owes me about 3000Kč ($200) now, including the panniers and handlebar bag in which I carry:

  • Trousers, a long sleeved shirt and 2 brightly-coloured t-shirts for cycling
  • Another pair of trousers, a pair of shorts and two shirts for wearing around towns
  • One pair of shoes and one pair of sandals
  • As many socks and underpants as space allows
  • A bright yellow poncho
  • A basic tool kit, spare tube and elastic straps
  • A small towel, a facewasher and a bag of toiletries
  • Camera and battery charger
  • Phone and charger
  • Computer, memory sticks, a couple of notebooks and some pens
  • Maps and printed information
  • Sunglasses and helmet
  • And last but not least, my wallet and keys for the bike lock
The small Asus Eee computer is a new addition to the panniers. On the last trip, I carried a former housemate’s clunky old Dell that weighs about 4 kilograms. The new little Eee is not much larger than a Lonely Planet guidebook and weighs 1.1 Kilos.

Having bumped into several travellers carrying these little machines I had the chance to try before buying and was pretty impressed with what I found. One of the only complaints was that the small screens required too much side to side scrolling, so I waited especially for the newer model to come out, as it has a 9-inch screen; 2 inches wider than the older model.

A couple of Eee owners said “it’s good for what it is, but you wouldn’t want to write a book on it”. Which of course, is exactly what I want to use it for. So we’ll see how that goes.

The book so far is progressing…slowly.

I think it will be smoother from now on though, because working on the first stage has given me a fair idea of how the book will be arranged, and I’ll be able to take better notes this time around. The book will be about the interesting places that I’m visiting, and each destination will have a chapter of its own; some might have two. Because it’s also a book about a cycle trip, the destination chapters will be linked by (much shorter) chapters about the travelling days and the cycle routes.

Hopefully it will be interesting enough for somebody to want to publish. If not, you’ll find it here for free as an ebook.

Wish me luck. See you on the other side.


Michael said...

Do you have anywhere lined up to stay in Liberec? If not, the Unihotel's always been the cheapest place in town. Handy for the bars too- even if you are only on the kofolas.

Raúl y Pablo said...
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Hello Xu Xu said...

You look like a fellow who likes to pare things down to the bare minimum. I like that alot. Might I suggest that the pressurised can of shaving foam you have in your toilet bag might be unneccesary and you could just make a lather from whatever bar of soap or tube of shower gel you might already have in there?

Mike Svec said...
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Mike Svec said...

Looks like a great plan. I have seen Říp from the bus and would love to explore it seeing how it is where Father Cech decided to settle his people. You could spend a day or two at Terezín absorbing the atmosphere and reflecting on the events. Most is an interesting choice. I suppose that is a good place to get a feel for an industrial and environmental disaster. I remember visiting an area manor that was a place where Beethoven often visited. It was run down and the old noble family declined accepting the property. Down in the valley below in one direction was a giant strip mine, and in the other a huge chemical plant. A hazy filled the valley. Very sobering. I enjoy Plzeň. It is more industrial than Olomouc but it has its charms. I have spent some time nearby in Radnice-Liblín area along the Berounka River. Lots of small villages and gently rolling hills. There is an interesting book Fields of Light that talks about Radnice and the occupation by the Nazi's and the authors father who fought against the communist. It might be work a day or two to explore especially by bike. My Švec ancestors are from the Liblín and Radnice area. Good luck, sounds like a wonderful fall.

Captain Oddsocks said...

@Michael- I've just checked in to Jested! I've always liked this building and I was nosing around their website the other day and noticed they have pretty reasonable prices for weeknights in the off season. 710Kc for a single is not a bad splurge for one night. It might be the Uni hotel for the next few days though... I'm off to the stadium to see the Bili Tygri serve it up to Mlada Boleslav on Friday night. Any messages you'd like me to pass along?

@Xu Xu. I'm carrying a half size tin of shave cream that I feel is a good balance between saving space and not ripping my face off. the one in the phto was empty-justa prop for the pic (can't believe anyone these days can you ;-)

@Mike I'm looking forward to Rip too. I think I saw it on the horizon from Jested this afternoon (anyone know if that's physically/geographically possible?).
In Most there's a particular church that I want to see, but I'm also interested in the area's mining history.
As a foreigner, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking this country is all fairytale villages and souvenir marionettes. But coal and uranium mines are as integral to the Czech Republic as auto plants are to the USA and shearing sheds are to Australia.
So I want to see them, and as regular readers of the blog, you guys will all be coming along :-)

Michael said...

I'm pretty sure it's possible to see Rip from Jested. On a very clear day. Rip's a nice climb - there's a small rotunda at the top and a cafe run by a friendly old bloke just below it.

Enjoy the game. Bili Tygri do to ho!

Anonymous said...

Haha. You need to get a tube of shaving cream from The Body Shop. lol.